Back to leadership Contact Us

Awareness vs. Momentum: How to Measure Real Brand Health


“Do you know me?”

Is that enough for marketers to be asking in their advertising tracking? Given the digital media-heavy experience economy we live in, shouldn’t a better question be, “how do you think I’m doing?”

Most DTC marketers merely track aided and unaided brand awareness as measures of success instead of considering other brand-building KPIs such as momentum, relevance, consideration and intent. Based on recent experience designing brand tracking studies for nascent DTC brands, Rain the Growth Agency has found some to be too reliant on tracking blunt, rational brand awareness rather than the more emotionally nuanced measures such as momentum.

What’s Brand Momentum?

Brand momentum refers to the (ideally) positive energy and excitement surrounding a brand. We consider momentum a more relevant metric for long-term success than simply measuring recognition, or brand awareness. Simple brand awareness lacks context while momentum is measured within the context of market competition via quantitative research. This more detailed research asks already brand-aware respondents if the brand is “gaining ground, losing ground or staying the same.”

To create momentum for a brand, it is important to differentiate the brand from competitors through a unique and believable promise that is emotionally engaging for target audiences, and to deliver that message via media they relate to and regularly consume.

Brand momentum is built on four pillars of the brand promise:

  • Relevance
  • Believability
  • Distinctiveness
  • Emotional engagement

Brand Awareness is Not Enough

Early-stage marketers should recognize that brand awareness refers only to the extent to which a brand is recognized by consumers and is often measured by the percentage of consumers who can correctly identify a brand from a list of options. That’s great, but it’s just the first step. Brand momentum, on the other hand, refers to the rate at which a consumer perceives a brand is growing or declining in popularity within the consumer’s brand consideration set.

Adding a momentum measure to awareness tracking allows marketers to measure beyond mere brand recognition and move closer to actual purchase consideration and intent. Momentum reflects a consumer’s gut feeling about meaning, understanding and emotion related to the brand. Many marketers in early stages design advertising and media plans for maximum function or visibility and not for the real (or perceived) experience of the consumer.

Awareness is about identification, while relevance and momentum are about positive feelings, expectations, and perceived experience. Awareness also doesn’t capture sentiment. One could be aware of and dislike a brand whereas net momentum captures both positive and negative sentiment and is consequently a better measure of future intent.

To use how we think of an influencer as an example, it’s not only that you know their name; it’s how you relate to their brand/content that will keep you engaged enough to click on a link. What encourages you to buy a product or act on an idea they promote is based on how well you feel you know them, which is also what determines how effective a partnership with that influencer eventually is.

So, when determining the real ROI on a marketing effort, isn’t the real answer you seek from consumers, “how do you think I’m doing?”

This article is featured in Media Impact Report No. 41. View the full report here.